Re: “Advice for students (“August 8 lead editorial),

I was encouraged by the creativity, energy and often underestimated power of students to make positive changes in our schools and communities described in this Roanoke Times editorial. It brought to mind one of the first student heroines I learned about when moving to the Roanoke area a few years ago.

Almost 70 years ago, Barbara Rose Johns (Powell), like the students years later at Fort Defiance High School in your editorial, began a journey that grew years later to culminate in a much larger than imagined historical change in our schools and society. On April 23, 1951, Barbara organized a group of friends to stage a school wide assembly at the all black Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville. She and her friends were disheartened over the extremely poor conditions in her school, depriving students of the basic requirements for a decent education. From that assembly, the entire student body marched to the county courthouse, while Barbara led student leaders to the Office of the School Superintendent to protest the unequal conditions in their segregated school, where they were summarily rebuffed.

With the support of the NAACP, this catalyst eventually led to the filing of a lawsuit, Davis v. Prince Edward County, the largest and only student initiated case which was merged with others to become Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring separate but equal public schools unconstitutional.

As the August 8 Roanoke Times editorial reminds us, that historical ruling remains relevant today as we confront our own crumbling schools. And our students can still make a difference.....



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